Wednesday, 16 November 2011

No punches were thrown. Only handbags were used

Do you know, some days in the domestic conflict management cycle leave me feeling distinctly antagonistic towards my own mini rottweilers, aka my darling children.

But where is the parent who, at some point, would not happily pitch their annoying offspring into a lake, then dance about in celebration, singing Hallelujah?

Like today. We visit the Hong Kong Wetland Centre.

The outing starts as normal - the usual muttered grudges and resentments - but not serious enough to deflect the indulgent mama from offering ice cream on condition she is allowed to maintain her fantasy that we are all having a super high-intensity educational outing.

Hip hip hooray! En route to the Wetland Centre! Top of bus 967.

But when la famille Grit arrive at the first pond, the agreeable humour and cooperative family dynamic immediately depart.

I don't know why, but the Hong Kong Wetland Centre never fails to bring out someone's aggressive side. Last time, it began over the fake otter poo. This time, the mudskippers.

The site of mudskipper mayhem.

Yet I discover, edging my perilous way like a UN ambassador in a corpse-strewn tribal region, that the mudskippers are not the underlying cause. They are merely the icing on the cake.

The fisticuffs du jour fanning out across the wetlands, now between Tiger and Shark, careless of the happy home ed group we are here to meet, are really because these children - with their inherited control issues interwoven with their triplet sibling rivalries - have foolishly, on departing the house, and unknown to me, agreed to share a sketch book.

'My turn first. Then yours.'

Uh-ho. If I had known about this I would have nipped it in the bud. Anyone who has more than one child will know how dangerously explosive has been their experience of share nicely.

A bit like putting a lighted match to a bucket of nitroglycerin.

Over the years, along with the healing scars, I have soothed myself with positive thinking. I have told myself that share nicely has been the perfect training ground for your average workplace. There, each person will be placed under a time pressure to compete with colleagues over finite resources. The winning employee will merely demonstrate superior tactics of office weaponry, water cooler manoeuvring, and desk-top backstabbing. These are the strategies learned in the battlefields of share nicely.

But the War of the Sketchbook has now begun. Gentle enough, if you imagine an opening parley of glowering, elbowing, and quite a lot of passive/aggressive from Shark. (So you want me to rip out my mudskippers do you? Fine! I'll rip them out from YOUR SKETCHBOOK.)

From here it escalates to light shoving, stomping off, and a handbagging.

I unwittingly photographed the
seconds following the handbagging.

Then mama hisses you are never to share a sketchbook again, and if there was an old Chinese woman canny enough to sell me sketchbooks right now at $5,000 a pop she'd go home happy, but WAIT. Inside I am boiling with the stupidity of the argument, how I have become a negotiator for a piece of paper, and how wretchedly desirous I feel it would be, given a moment of liberation, to see both of my children FACE DOWN IN A LAKE. Then don't tell me the Hallelujah Chorus is not one of the finest works in the history of parenting.

But so we go on. Finally, after another two hours, the battle culminates; Tiger is in tears and Shark is shiftily edging her feet about with a guilty expression, caught with her moral righteousness and the quicksand on which she is basing her position.

Cue the moment we have all been waiting for. The Peace Treaty. (Triplet method: sidle up to each other, shove each other about a bit, show no offence is taken.)

Peace Treaty of the Wetlands declared at this site.

Well, for today, I have no conclusion, except maybe to blame this undercurrent of aggression and general atmos of vengeance on the Hong Kong weather. Or the high humidity. Or all the fault of the neighbours for yesterday introducing that theme of conflict into our lives when we were all getting along so happily. Bar the routine insults and daily threats.

Now here are more pictures. Looking at them, I can see I could have told quite a different story.

Happy home educated children looking for birds, mudskippers, fiddler crabs and water snakes.
And of course we had ice cream when we got off the bus at Central. It was an excellent educational day.

1 comment:

Nora said...

You should have thrown them face down in the lake and left them to clamber out on their own. They do know how to swim, don't they? XOX